BZBI, where you belong

Professional Staff

    Lynne Balaban, Executive Director

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    Lynne has more than 30 years of experience in nonprofit management. As a seasoned Executive Director she has held leadership roles in synagogues, JCC’s and other non-profits in South Florida, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Providence, Los Angeles and Columbus. She most recently served as the Executive Director of B’nai Aviv in Weston, Florida. Prior to that she was the Executive Director of Congregation Or VeShalom in Atlanta, Georgia.

    A Pennsylvania native, Lynne holds a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Delaware and a Masters Degree from Gratz College. Lynne has a breadth of program development and strategic planning experience coupled with a passion for Jewish education. She supports and believes in Tikkun Olam and the importance of developing employees and volunteers.  She is dedicated to building inspired and productive relationships with our members and the community, including you!

    As an active member of NAASE (the North American Association of Synagogue Executives), she currently serves on their board as Membership Co-Chair and Welcoming Chair. She is also on the Philadelphia Jewish Federation Women’s Philanthropy Board and a member of the Development Committee for Hillel at the University of Delaware.

    Lynne notes, “BZBI is a synagogue with a proud past and an even more promising future, and I look forward to being a part of it.”

    David Haas, Communications Coordinator

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    David Haas is BZBI’s Communications Coordinator. He moved to Philadelphia in January 2020 and comes to us by way of the Hebrew Free Loan Association of San Francisco. There, he had a diverse portfolio of responsibilities that included communications, marketing, fundraising, and outreach. He also serves in a volunteer capacity as a strategic communications adviser to the Red Cross of Southeastern Pennsylvania. David has a BA from the University of Michigan and a Master’s in Human Resources Development from George Washington University. His background includes a long career as a project manager on major government technology projects, but his focus is now on supporting the Jewish Community and giving back. David is married to Rabbi Valerie Joseph and has two sons, Evan and Jacob.

    Phyllis Kramer, Temple Administrator

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    Phyllis Kramer is our Office Manager and longest-serving employee. Phyllis is the face that greets you as you come into the office, and the person most likely to know who you are and how you are connected to BZBI. She has her guiding hand on our events, programs, kiddushes, congregational announcements, and life-cycle events. Little happens smoothly without Phyllis’ care and attention to detail. She is a proud mom and grandmother.

    Rebecca Krasner, Community Engagement Specialist

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    Rebecca Krasner has been BZBI’s Community Engagement specialist, believing that the heart of a Jewish community are the relationships formed between people. She works to connect folks both within our BZBI community and beyond. Whether at an adult Shabbat dinner, a young family meet and greet, or Shabbat Yoga, Rebecca is anxious to get to know you and your Jewish Journey.

    Before coming to BZBI Rebecca was the Midwest Regional Director for Moving Traditions, a national program serving Jewish teens. Rebecca has also worked as a birth doula and has run educational programs in art museums. She and her husband Abe Friedman live in the Fitler Square neighborhood in Center City.

    Leslee Schwartz, Accounts Specialist

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    Leslee Schwartz is our Financial Account Specialist addressing the day-to-day financial transactions for our members and vendors. She works closely with the treasurer and finance committee to help insure the accuracy of our financial statements. She is the go-to person for questions about your account and can easily update any information in your synagogue files. Leslee manages employee benefits and payroll for BZBI. She is a Center City resident and a former school teacher who has taught part-time in our religious school.


    Sara Dasher Goldfuss, Director of Early Childhood Education

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    Sara Dasher Goldfuss came to us in March 2020 with over 12 years of early childhood experience–both in the classroom and as an administrator. She most recently served as the Assistant Director of Education for the preschool at Society Hill Synagogue and prior to that held teaching positions at Temple Beth Hillel-Beth El in Wynnewood and at Germantown Jewish Centre. Sara is passionate about early childhood development and how overall well-being impacts child growth, as well as the parenting experience. She intends to foster learning and growth in every domain through intentional play and the highest quality of care using a Reggio inspired approach to learning. Both Sara and her husband Jamie are Philly natives and live in Overbook Park with their four children, Izzy, Yaffa, Toby, and Adar.

    Melanie Fine, Early Childhood Education Programs Coordinator

    215-735-5142 | email

    Melanie Fine previously worked as an assistant teacher in our Early Childhood program, and she is thrilled to transition from her role in the classroom to a role as an administrator. Melanie graduated from the University of Delaware in 2018 with a degree in Interpersonal Communication. Prior to starting her career in Early Childhood Education, Melanie worked as an administrator for a restaurant in Philadelphia assisting with marketing and event planning. Melanie is so excited to continue working with children while supporting the BZBI community as an administrator.

    Rabbi Max Nissen, Director of Youth and Family Education

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    Rabbi Max Nissen joined our staff in July 2019 as our Religious School and Youth and Family Services Director. Rabbi Max comes to BZBI from Congregation Beth El (Bethesda, MD), where he served as the Assistant Education Director and head of the Upper School. He also served as the rabbinic intern at the Park Slope Jewish Center (Brooklyn, New York) and as the rabbinic leader of Fitzgerald Hebrew Congregation (Fitzgerald, GA). He believes in empowering his students and their families, partnering with them to create meaningful Jewish experiences that create community, foster personal growth, and contribute to a better world.

    Rachel Beck, Teen Program Coordinator

    Rachel Beck develops and oversees all things teen for BZBI. She moved to this position after 2 years as a Hebrew High teacher, USY advisor, and BZBI preschool teacher. With a BA from Oberlin College, she has a background in visual art and education and taught art at Huey Elementary School in West Philadelphia, where she also lives.

    Rachel’s priority is assisting Jewish teens in identifying how to be Jews in the mostly non-Jewish world, and gaining a perspective that will grow with them into adulthood. Additionally, she is a leader in local movements for climate justice and racial justice, and is a member of Tzedek Lab, a national network of leaders mobilizing the Jewish community against racism, antisemitism, and white supremacy.


    Joel Chew, Maintenance Lead


    Joel Chew is the lead person in our Maintenance Department and is charged with the general maintenance of the building, facilitating set-ups for classes, meetings and services, and ensuring that the building is accommodating to our congregants and visitors. He is the person who makes sure it’s cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Joel has been on staff for 11 years and helps make BZBI the welcoming place it is.

    Brian Johnson, Senior Maintenance Expert


    Brian Johnson is our senior maintenance person. Brian has worked for BZBI for 12 years and is an expert on the facility and the nuances of our classrooms and meeting spaces. He makes sure the building is prepared for the next day’s programs and ensures its cleanliness each evening. He secures the building at the end of each day and is the smiling face that wishes those here late in the day a good evening.